The 2020 State of Remote Monitoring & Management

As remote work reshapes the business landscape, companies confront heightened cybersecurity risks and IT budget cuts, yet remote monitoring and management (RMM) software emerges as a key investment in securing and supporting remote devices and networks.

Jacob Haug

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The 2020 State of Remote Monitoring & Management

2020 thus far has been a watershed year, marking a turning point for how work gets done. With the rapid acceleration of remote work, we're seeing side effects in the realms of cybersecurity, remote device management, and networking. 78% of employees at small-to-medium businesses are temporarily working remotely, with 56% anticipating some positions will be permanently remote moving forward.

Unfortunately, the uncertainty of a global pandemic has also led companies to reduce their budgets, including budgets for IT services when they need them the most. In 2020, 32% of IT executives identify budget as their greatest barrier, followed by 24% who say that employees not following security guidelines is their biggest challenge. 38% of small-to-medium businesses allocate less than \$1,000 to their IT security budget. That's up from 29% in 2019 and 27% in 2018.

With this upheaval in the way work gets done, we're also seeing changes in the way companies conduct remote monitoring and management (RMM) of their devices. As more employees work remotely, secure connections to devices to provide security updates and IT support are critical to employee productivity and company security. In this post, we'll dive into how companies are using RMM in 2020, and why RMM software is growing as an investment toward companies' growth.

RMM Is Constantly Evolving

RMM software has come a very long way in a short time. Not long ago, the only way to provide support to a device was for the technician to physically be in the same room with the device. Often, this followed the break-fix model. When something went wrong, clients would call their IT technician to physically go to the server or computer and diagnose the problem.

With the advent of the internet came the first systems for feeding device data back to IT teams. However, these first systems were complex and expensive - cost prohibitive for all but the largest organizations. It has only been in the past 15 years that RMM solutions have become widely available for companies of all sizes.

At first, those solutions provided a slow, inconsistent trickle of data. Today, they provide direct remote access to machines. In the future, peer-to-peer connections and very low latency data about devices will be the norm. As RMM services become cheaper and easier to provision, they've become a critical tool that IT teams rely on to support devices and keep them up to date.

It's 2020: Are Companies Using Device Management Software?

Keeping devices up to date with the latest security patches, providing data about machine uptime and performance, and allowing remote access to machines in order to troubleshoot problems are three major challenges of 2020 all addressed by RMM software.

However, recent research from managed IT provider, Electric AI, indicates that only 13% of companies have a device management solution installed on all of their devices. Much more likely is that a company has a mixture of managed and unmanaged devices. Electric found that 59% of companies have device management software on less than half of their devices.

According to Electric:

[Device management software] allows for IT teams to push updates and patches to devices remotely at scale with ease and should be a staple in this new normal of accelerated remote work.

Adding an RMM solution is a critical step in securing an organization's endpoints, rolling out bulk security policies as needed, and protecting sensitive data. Electric and other IT providers have found that “this is essential” to ensuring endpoint security.

Massive Uptick in Remote Work Adds Security Challenges

According to research from the InfoSec Institute, the sharp shift to remote work in 2020 has added significant security challenges to IT teams. In the research, the Institute found that for remote workers:

  • 23% worked on a public Wi-Fi network
  • 33% downloaded a personal application without IT approval
  • 36% accessed work applications on a non-work device
  • 45% shared their work computer with a spouse or child

The security implications of these decisions could be hazardous to company data and lead to a security breach. However, most IT teams still don't know about these breaches of policy because they don't have any device management software installed across their devices.

This is one area where RMM is poised for massive growth, as companies recognize that a breach is much more costly than monitoring devices and rolling out policies across the organization.

2020 Trends for RMM Software

The IT leaders at small-to-medium businesses rank firewalls, antivirus protection, endpoint security, VPNs, and web filtering as the most important features they look for in IT software. RMM software can help establish all of these protocols and apply the same policies consistently across all devices on an organization's network.

Critically, of those companies who experienced a data breach in the last 12 months, only 15% were able to detect and stop the attack. Meanwhile, 45% of companies have experienced an attack in the past 12 months and adjusted their IT security roadmap to be more aggressive about putting security measures in place.

The upshot for RMM software is it's growing in usability, decreasing in cost, and spreading in popularity as more companies need to manage more remote devices. Endpoint security is still a top concern for IT leaders, but infrastructure and software are lagging behind due to budget constraints. Expect the RMM space to become easier to use, making it intuitive for any company, no matter how small, to manage their devices and set security policies company-wide.

Level: Simplify IT Management

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